1.4. New England (1865-1900): The Republican Era


Population, rank
1860
(33 states)
1880
(37 states)
1900
(45 states)
Maine
628,279
22nd
648,936
27th
694,466
30th
New Hampshire
326,073
27th
346,991
31st
411,588
36th
Vermont
315,098
28th
332,286
32nd
343,641
38th
Massachusetts
1,231,066
7th
1,783,085
7th
2,805,346
7th
Rhode Island
174,620
29th
276,531
33rd
428,556
34th
Connecticut
460,147
24th
622,700
28th
908,420
29th
Region's % of US pop.    
10.0%

8.0%

7.3%


Key events:

  • During the late 19th century, New England played a less central part in the evolution of American civilization than it had in previous eras.  New England continued to grow modestly but the nation’s attention focused more on the rise of great urban centers in the mid-Atlantic states and of the Midwest and on the final settlement of the frontier and the growth of the young  Pacific coast states. 
  • New England, which had become solidly Republican in the period of crisis before the Civil War, remained a bastion of Republican power and culture during this era.  Rural Yankees dominated its politics thanks in part to malapportionment of state legislatures in favor of rural areas, a pattern that had carried over from the colonial era.  At the end of the 19th century, a new wave of immigration flowed into the region; Irish, Italian, Portuguese and French-Canadian immigrants began the competition for more economic and political power, a struggle that would continue well into the 20th century.
  • The Republican culture had many benefits.  New England continued to be relatively progressive as to civil rights.  Large businesses – mainly textile and mechanical manufacturers and railroads – dominated the regional economy but did not always have their way in the legislature and the courts.  New England states were some of the first to create railroad regulatory commissions, and they began to enact reform measures to promote better workplace conditions and public health well before the advent of the Progressive era, when the reform movement became nationwide. 
Vanderbilt Mansion, Newport, Rhode Island - courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Mark Twain House, Hartford, Connecticut - courtesy Kenneth Zirkel and Wikimedia Commons